COMMUNITY HEROES: Award recognizes Bristol, Tenn. dispatcher for quick actions, persistence in lifesaving 911 call


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – This month, Jessica Donihe, a four-year veteran of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department was honored during the annual “First Responder Recognition Awards” in Nashville on September 11.

The award comes from an emergency call she answered in March 2018. Her persistence saved one woman’s life.

Jessica Donihe did what she does every work day: she answered the phone in the Bristol Tennessee dispatch center.

“I could hear something and it didn’t feel right,” Donihe said. “It was a gut feeling, and it really was and I don’t know how else to explain it.”

It was an open line, but the woman in need, on the other end was not responding.

“I had to disconnect because I had other 9-1-1 calls coming in,” Donihe recalled.

Donihe’s has been a 911 dispatcher for four years, so she knows every caller could be experiencing a life or death situation.

She said, “But something led me to keep calling that lady back, over and over to where I could get a location on her to get an officer out or to figure out what was needed.”

At last, she pinpointed the area to send help.

“I feel like I called her 17 or something times,” Donihe said. “I did everything that I could to make sure that when I was done, she was getting what she needed.”

When officers arrived, they found a woman who had attempted to hang herself with a string from her sweatshirt.

“It could have been a death within a matter of seconds. That in itself was overwhelming knowing that,” she said.

Donihe explained that during her four years with the police department, she has seen it all.

“I’ve had a little bit of everything in the four years. I’ve had three officer invovled shootings. I’ve had an active shooter on the parkway,” she said.

What keeps her coming back to work is her desire to help people in need.

She said, “You come in you never know what is going to be happening. Each day, it’s something new.”

And that is why she is our community hero.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you.

Click here to nominate a Community Hero.

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